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Measuring Unemployment Insurance Generosity

  • Pallage, Stéphane

    ()

    (University of Québec at Montréal)

  • Scruggs, Lyle

    ()

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Zimmermann, Christian

    ()

    (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)

In this paper, we develop a methodology to summarize the various policy parameters of an unemployment insurance scheme into a single generosity parameter. Unemployment insurance policies are multdimensional objects. They are typically defined by waiting periods, eligibility duration, benefit levels and asset tests when eligible, which makes intertemporal or international comparisons difficult. To make things worse, labor market conditions, such as the likelihood and duration of unemployment matter when assessing the generosity of different policies. We build a first model with such complex characteristics. Our model features heterogeneous agents that are liquidity constrained but can self-insure. We then build a second model that is similar, except that the unemployment insurance is simpler: it is deprived of waiting periods and agents are eligible forever with constant benefits. We then determine which level of benefits in this second model makes agents indifferent between both unemployment insurance policies. We apply this strategy to the unemployment insurance program of the United Kingdom and study how its generosity evolved over time.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3868.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Political Analysis, 2013, 21(4), 524-549
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3868
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  1. Pallage, Stephane & Zimmermann, Christian, 2001. "Voting on Unemployment Insurance," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(4), pages 903-23, November.
  2. Shavell, Steven & Weiss, Laurence, 1979. "The Optimal Payment of Unemployment Insurance Benefits over Time," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1347-62, December.
  3. Hagedorn, Marcus & Manovskii, Iourii, 2008. "The cyclical behavior of equilibrium unemployment and vacancies revisited," Working Paper Series 0853, European Central Bank.
  4. Howell David R. & Baker Dean & Glyn Andrew & Schmitt John, 2007. "Are Protective Labor Market Institutions at the Root of Unemployment? A Critical Review of the Evidence," Capitalism and Society, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-73, May.
  5. Lars Ljungqvist & Thomas J. Sargent, 1996. "The European Unemployment Dilemma," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 36, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
  6. Juan Botero & Simeon Djankov & Rafael Porta & Florencio C. Lopez-De-Silanes, 2004. "The Regulation of Labor," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1339-1382, November.
  7. Lyle Scruggs, 2006. "The Generosity of Social Insurance, 1971--2002," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 349-364, Autumn.
  8. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 1997. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 412-38, April.
  9. Mendoza, Enrique G. & Razin, Assaf & Tesar, Linda L., 1994. "Effective tax rates in macroeconomics: Cross-country estimates of tax rates on factor incomes and consumption," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 297-323, December.
  10. Hansen, G.D. & Imrohoroglu, A., 1990. "The Role Of Unemployment Insurance In An Economy With Liquidity Constraints And Moral Hazard," Papers 21, California Los Angeles - Applied Econometrics.
  11. Gayle Allard, 2005. "Measuring The Changing Generosity Of Unemployment Benefits: Beyond Existing Indicators," Working Papers Economia wp05-18, Instituto de Empresa, Area of Economic Environment.
  12. Pallage, Stephane & Zimmermann, Christian, 2005. "Heterogeneous labor markets and generosity towards the unemployed: an international perspective," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 88-106, March.
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